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Yet another downpour was in full stream, literally, when the Great Bend Township board of supervisors met on the evening of July 19. The deluge prompted three phone calls during the meeting, two from residents on Old Route 11. After the first one, supervisor and roadmaster George Haskins immediately took off, responding to a report that water was running down the mountain, through a home on Old Route 11 and across the road.
He left, in fact, just after resident Warren Smith asked for and got time on the agenda to take the supervisors to task for their failure, thus far, to attend to McHugh Hill Road on which he lives. Its a road that Haskins and supervisor Bob Squier had hoped to address (supervisor Walt Galloway was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacant seat), and still do. Except that there doesnt appear to be the funds to do it.
Smith noted that he has patiently waited through a couple of years to see action on the road, and was at the meeting to see why nothing has been done on it. "You [supervisors] have the dubious distinction of ignoring our road more than Jack Franks. How does that sit with you?" he asked. Smith noted that McHugh Hill Road gets more vehicles on it in three weeks in the summer than some township roads get all year. "I see, year after year, work on this road and that, and work on Graham Hollow Road, and McHugh Hill Road just sits there," Smith also thought that peoples safety was being jeopardized with beer and timber trucks using the road. He pointed out that, in 1998, residents on the road kicked in for tar and chipping that took place in what he thought was weather already too cool to do it. "And that work has not been maintained. Thats not good," Smith said.
Haskins said he wasnt sure how to respond to Smiths question. He noted that the supervisors are aware of what needs to be done to the road, have gotten some informal estimates on fixing it, and that equipment failures [the grader and tractor] have not just slowed up work, but increased expenses in their fixing. "We havent borrowed money because we have concerns about how were going to pay it back," he said. Even if a decision is made to borrow, Haskins added that he wasnt sure if there were time to do pass an ordinance to advertise for bids on the road, at least this year.
Said Galloway, "We can borrow $200,000, but I dont see any way to pay it back. Especially this year, when were looking at a $15,000 grader repair and, I hear, another $1,000-$2,000 to repair the tractor. Graham Hollow Road was a failing road, and we ought to finish it so it doesnt slide into the creek and pay for it this year, and next year move onto a sustainable road-building program." He added that there are ongoing items, as well, that need the purchasing, such as road material for the winter. "If you look at our taxes, there hadnt been an increase in a long time. But," he said, "it got to the point where, whether you borrow or not, to fix the roads or not, there had to be a tax increase just to sustain the finances of the township, to pay our way."
When Squire said that the intent of raising taxes was to be able to borrow money, Galloway responded, "But its not working out." He explained that "the recent tax increase comes to about $28,000, and we have $15,000 for the grader, and the tractor, and it just goes on and on. Were already 25 percent into our liquid fuels fund this year, and we havent paid for the grader. And if you look at how were spending money, if we dont put the brakes on, were going to be broke by the end of the year."
Galloway suggested a due-diligence that includes looking at small and large things to cut expenses "such as having a township employee mow the lawn rather than paying $40 for someone else to do it. These kinds of expenses can add up."
Smith noted that he already knew the answer to his question that the "township was not going to do the road. I wanted to know why."
Squire noted that there is about $75,000 in the building fund. Galloway responded that discussion about the building was not one to address at this particular meeting. "This building is a disgrace and it is an issue. But theres no money to do that, either." Said Galloway, "Im sorry to be Mr. Doom and Gloom, but..." In fact, he appeared to be a realist when it came to township finances.
Resident Pat McHugh Derrick asked the supervisors if, as one of them mentioned in the past, there was some sort of grant money to add on to the existing township building. She also asked if they knew, after she was elected county commissioner, that MaryAnn Warren was at the building, taking measurements of it. Squier responded that he wasnt aware of the Warren visit, but was glad she was there.
At that point, Haskins left for the Old Route 11 call, and Squier completed Haskins roadmaster report. The finishing up of Graham Hollow Road is awaiting a DEP permit, which requires an engineers report, which township secretary/treasurer Sheila Guinan noted is completed. She will call the engineer and remind him of the urgency of sending in the report to the DEP, ASAP.
In correspondence, the board addressed letters from both the Broome Volunteer Emergency Squad as well as the Susquehanna Fire Department. Both concerned the need for emergency responders while the local Great Bend unit works to obtain relicensing. The supervisors voted to adopt the same emergency procedures as Great Bend Borough: to go with the closest available squad, which would be Broome or the Montrose Minutemen for advanced life support, and the same for basic life support, where the Susquehanna and New Milford squads would also be available. Guinan will inform the various squads of the townships decision.
Guinan reported on a notice the township received which could reduce its 2004 obligation to the employee pension fund. It states that the township could resubmit its 2004 pension valuation report if the pension fund took a big loss in 2003. Guinan will check it out.
The last of the correspondence for the evening was a letter from the townships health insurance plan carrier, informing it that the cost of the plan will increase by about 2 percent or $1,150 for the upcoming year. While this is an increase well below the national trends in health insurance costs, resident Smith asked if employees were required to pay into the plan. They are not. He noted that, today, it is the rare organization that does not require contributions by employees who participate in health benefit plans. Both Galloway and Squier thought it was a point well taken, and said employee contributions would be discussed at the townships budget meeting.
The meeting ended the way it began with Smith, who, before he left, said he hoped "the minutes of the meeting reflect that township supervisors have stated that they wont do anything for McHugh Hill Road this year." Smith said he feared that the supervisors reflected a backward way of doing things in the county, and that perhaps they should be serving at the county level. "We want scenery; we dont want business," is how Smith described it, adding, "Its hard to fathom."
Galloway and Squier replied that the supervisors dont know what the township was going to do about the road. The meeting was adjourned. The Great Bend Township board of supervisors is scheduled to regularly meet the first and third Monday of every month at 7 p.m. in the township building.
High School Principal Michael Thornton was almost giddy reporting to his school board the impressive results of the latest PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) exams. At a mid-summer meeting of the Blue Ridge Board on July 19, Mr. Thornton called the scores the best "since I've been here." Scores on these tests - Pennsylvania's response to the challenge of the federal No Child Left Behind Act to improve the country's schools - are reported in a variety of ways. The standards require continuous improvement, leading to boosts in levels of student performance from "below basic" to "advanced." The ultimate requirement is to raise all students to the "proficient" level or above. According to Mr. Thornton, Blue Ridge High School students lifted themselves 10 percentage points in both math and reading in the "proficient" category. He congratulated his staff, and especially Mr. Hastie and Mrs. Manchester, for their outstanding efforts. Middle School Principal John Manchester and Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz reported similar gains in recent testing.
District Superintendent Robert McNamara reported that Blue Ridge as a whole achieved "Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)," another of the measures derived from the tests, that affects the level of funding a school district can expect from the state. That's especially important right now, as the state legislature recently passed a budget that is expected to increase school funding statewide by about $150 million. Mr. McNamara remarked that, although the state budget has been passed, nobody is yet sure what it all means, and everyone is awaiting further interpretation.
Since the Board is meeting only once in July and once in August, the agenda tends to cover a lot of ground, as it did in this case. Some items:
* The Board accepted the resignation of Suzan Seamans as coordinator of the program for gifted students. Citing "personal and financial reasons," Ms. Seamans will probably also relinquish the recently won post of mentor to the middle school math club.
* The Board added a line to the District's schedule of extracurricular positions, by creating the position of advisor to the local chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America, at a salary of about $780 per year.
* The Board hired Kristen Grausgruber to teach the summer driver education program, which started on July 19th.
* The Board hired Chad Jones of New Milford as a teacher in the Elementary School. Mr. Jones was welcomed in person at the meeting.
The Board accepted bids for services and supplies as follows:
* Kurtz Brothers, for general supplies; $7,900.
* Cascade School Supplies, for general supplies; $10,400.
* More Wood Floor Finishing of Elmira, NY, to refinish the gym floors; $29,511.
* Custodial supplies from Pennsylvania Paper Supply ($6,400), US Food/Sofco ($8,200), Sanico ($90) and Master Chemical ($2,050).
The summer has been busy at Blue Ridge, and Board President Alan Hall opened the meeting by commending the maintenance staff for the "excellent work" cleaning and polishing the schools. He and Mr. Thornton were especially enthusiastic about the new turf on the soccer field. Mr. Thornton told board members that the maintenance staff had been cooperating with the District Justice to put to work people sentenced to community service, and with Trehab for additional services. All remarked on improvements in the schools as a result of the efforts of the Maintenance Department.
Maintenance workers aren't the only ones who have been busy at Blue Ridge over the summer. The High School and Middle Schools reported successful summer sessions. Mr. Dietz reported a successful continuation of the old Read-to-Succeed program that is now funded by the District. Not to mention driver education.
The schools will run two additional programs this year. Because of a shortage of certified math instructors during the school year in the Middle School, the staff and administration felt that students who lagged behind deserved additional help. So Rebecca Randall will teach a remedial math class for 4 days in August. And the Elementary School will be offering a 10-day, state-funded program called "Classroom Plus." Classes will run 3 1/2 hours a day beginning August 2, and are intended to give an extra boost to youngsters in the early grades by offering closer attention. At least 3 teachers, and probably several more, will be enlisted to work in the program that hopes to match up no more than 5-6 students with each instructor.
Now that the old fiscal year has been closed out, the Board made some decisions about surplus resources. They authorized the transfer of half a million dollars to the "capital reserve fund," a set-aside that is expected to be used to help with major upgrades. They also made a payment of $281,668 to the debt service fund, to help pay off remaining debt from the renovation some 8 years past.
In a surprising turnabout, the Board may be preparing to take on some additional debt. A month ago, when Mr. Hall and Mr. McNamara proposed the development of something called "PlanCon A and B" in preparation for a project to upgrade a variety of areas in the schools from the telephone systems to the lobbies, they were rebuffed by a vote of members who were unsure that the District could afford the expense. Apparently there was some negotiating in the interim, because the Board voted unanimously this time to go forward. A public workshop will be scheduled, probably in August, to discuss the details of the plan, a move which satisfied some members who opposed it the last time that the project had been scaled back somewhat, and that broader input would be accepted in the process. PlanCon A and B are the first stages of capital project planning under state Department of Education rules that should result in more detailed project design, along with projections of reimbursement from state funds. But the first stage costs the District money; the earlier proposal would have cost some $45,000 to get started, which caused a majority of the Board to balk. The new procedure will ensure wider Board input before obligating the District to such an expenditure. The full slate of projects, said to have been scaled back since last month, might cost $5-6 million.
The Board also approved "preliminary" contract proposals for bus operators. Business Manager Loren Small asked the Board for the go-ahead so he could negotiate with the owners and drivers on a new formal contract.
Christina Whitney, employed at the latter end of the last school year as a Career Counselor, was introduced by Mr. Thornton with extravagant praise for her work over 19 short days, and a fervent plea that the Board renew the program for next year. Ms. Whitney's energy and enthusiasm were clearly evident in her briefing, which listed her many accomplishments as part of the Guidance Office, not the least of which was the generation of some $39,500 in scholarships for students pursuing further education. She also asked the Board to seriously consider renewing her position.
The Board has received a copy of a letter from Miller Brothers Construction regarding the property on Route 848 in New Milford Township which they talked the Board into including into a Keystone Opportunity Zone some 5 years ago and for which they received considerable tax relief. Nothing was ever built on the property, which has now been sold, and the interested municipalities, including Blue Ridge, demanded a refund of unpaid taxes because the original agreement appeared to have been abrogated. The letter came with a check for over $3,600, of which $3,200 will come to Blue Ridge to finally resolve the issue.
When students return in late August, each of them will get a new picture-ID card, on a spiffy, "break- away" lanyard, which they, and all staff and others in the schools, will be required to wear on the campus at all times. The bar code on the ID card will be used for new point-of-sale stations in the cafeteria, and for checking out books in the libraries. Each student will be issued a free card once every two years while at Blue Ridge (lost cards will incur a small fee). Aside from their use at the school, Activities Director James Corse noted that such school IDs are also good for discounts at theaters and for other services in the Binghamton area.
The next scheduled public meeting the Blue Ridge School Board will be held on Monday, August 23, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Man Sentenced For Separate DUI's
A Thompson man was sentenced to two terms of two to 18 months in the Susquehanna County Jail last week on separate counts of drunk driving. Ronald Wallace Sickler, 43, will serve his time on a work release program.
Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans also ordered Mr. Sickler to pay $1,120 in fines and other related costs. In addition, he will do 100 hours of community service, pay prosecution costs, and must attend a safe driving school.
Mr. Sickler was arrested in Susquehanna on July 25, 2003, and in New Milford Township on Aug. 17, 2003. Judge Seamans further ordered the defendant not to enter any establishment whose sole purpose is the sale of alcoholic beverages and not to possess, transport, or consume alcoholic beverages.
Jamie R. Bedford, 22, of Susquehanna was placed on state probation for one year and fined $250 for criminal mischief in Ararat Township on May 30, 2003. He must also make restitution, do 50 hours of community service, and cannot possess any firearms while he is on probation.
John E. Simpson, 36, of Nicholson was given a suspended jail term of one month to 15 months and was placed on state probation for 15 months for simple assault in Lenox Twp. on April 28. He was also fine $250 plus court costs, and must do 50 hours of community service.
David Lee Rider, 22, of Brackney, was given a suspended sentence of nine months to 24 months in a state correctional facility for criminal conspiracy/manufacturing of a controlled substance in Silver Lake Twp. on Nov. 20, 2003. He was also fined $500 plus courts costs and was placed on probation for 36 months.
Richard Lyon Arnold, 47, of Montrose was sentenced to one month to 12 months in the county jail for drunk driving in Dimock Twp. on Aug. 20, 2003. He will be given credit for time served but he was fined $300, must attend safe driving school, and pay prosecution costs. Mr. Arnold was sentenced to a second jail term of one month to 12 months and fined $300 for possession of drug paraphernalia in Dimock Twp. also on Aug. 20, 2003.
James Bernard Matechak, 22, of Jermyn, was sentenced to one month to 12 months in the county jail, with work release, and was fined $300 for drunk driving in Clifford Twp. on Aug. 16, 2003. He must also attend safe driving school.
Darryl L. Barney, 28, of Carbondale, was sentenced to one month to 18 months in the county jail, with work release privileges, for simple assault in Lenox Twp. on Aug. 21, 2003. He was also fined $750 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
Frank Williamn Beader, 24, of Carbondale, was sentenced to one month to 18 months in the county jail, with credit for time served, for simple assault in Lenox Twp. on Aug. 21, 2003. He was also fined $750 and must do 100 hours of community service.
James Robert Manoy, 43, of Honesdale, was given a suspended jail term of nine months to five years minus a day for theft by unlawful taking in Lenox Twp., on May 20, 2003. He was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $18,196, fined $1,500, and placed on probation for five years.
The Susquehanna Community School Board met on July 21 with Vice President James Bucci presiding in the absence of President Terry Carpenter.
Agenda items approved were the minutes of the June 16 meeting, filing of the treasurers report, the general fund bills, the service report, and filing of the activity fund and athletic fund reports.
Superintendent Bronson Stone reported that, under the Title I program, the district will be hiring a teacher for the coming year, to conduct in-class and outside the classroom activities to allow those students who need it more opportunities to remediate their deficiencies in reading and math.
During reports of district personnel, Mr. Stone said that the district should be receiving official reports of recent PSSA testing, along with analysis of those scores to help the district improve scores. Preliminary information indicates that there has been a significant improvement, with both the elementary and high school meeting state requirements. Further information about the testing results will be included in a mass newsletter mailing that will be sent to district parents, as well as changes to the districts dress code, cafeteria system and bell schedules. Also included will be information on the districts improvements to its data base, which will be expanded to include parents e-mail addresses.
Mr. Stone spoke about Act 72, legislation recently enacted to allow gambling within the state, with revenues to be applied to reduce property taxes to homeowners. The act, he said, changes public school funding in that districts now have an opportunity to receive revenues generated by gambling. But to qualify to receive that revenue, which is expected to reduce property taxes significantly, by approximately 23%, the district will be required to levy a wage tax, of .1%.
And, the district is in the process of revamping its website, to make it more "user friendly" for parents.
High School Principal Lisowski updated the board on changes that had been made to the districts dress code, through a committee comprised of faculty, parents and students. The new code, he said is more definitive than it had been, while not being overly restrictive. And, the district has acquired software that will track and monitor students internet activity, which he feels will be a great deterrent to keep them from visiting sites that they should not be on.
Elementary Principal Keyes agreed that he was pleased with the changes made to the dress code, as well as the elementary students PSSA scores. And, summer work is progressing well.
Business Manager Ray Testa reported that the districts transportation system is undergoing some changes; this information will also be included in the newsletter.
Special Ed. Coordinator Joni Miller reported that the district has received state approval for a Primary Life Skills Class, which will have seven students enrolled.
Approved for the 2004-05 school year were a maintenance contract for Beck & Beck Services, Inc. for the 2004-05 school year (heating and air conditioning); new textbooks for Social Studies as well as new courses such as career planning; a change/addition to the Professional Contract (no change in total salary), from a Fall & Spring Drama Advisor to Drama Advisor (2/3 salary), and Drama Assistant (1/3 salary); an increase in school lunch prices, main lunch .25 increase, extra .10 increase; two internal transfers, Sheila Gully, HS Library Aide and Jean Whitmore, Elementary Main Office.
The board approved a revised/updated Crisis Response Plan for the 2004-05 school year. Mr. Stone explained that the change mainly deals with response procedure for school bus accidents. Medical personnel would immediately transport students obviously injured. Those who appeared to be unhurt would be transported back to the school and reevaluated by medical personnel, with those needing further attention transported to a medical facility. The policy also includes a provision for parental involvement.
The board approved revisions and additions to the dress code policy. Mr. Stone noted that the changes are intended to teach students the value of dressing appropriately and to provide consistency in enforcement. The committee had considered requiring uniforms (specific styles/colors) but had decided against the idea, instead opting to allow more freedom of choice within certain guidelines.
The board approved resignations from Stacey Whitaker, secondary music; Cathy Lee, elementary aide; and Joe Yannone, assistant football coach.
Two additions to the teaching staff were approved, Julie Gallo, elementary/reading specialist and Jamie Smith, math. Both candidates were present, and were introduced to the board by Mr. Keyes and Mr. Lisowski.
Hiring of non-instructional staff for the 2004-05 school year was approved: Sarah French, high school clerical aide; Justine Ord, high school ISS aide; Justine Elston, elementary personal aide; Bill Jenkins, full-time maintenance. Hiring for Schedule B positions was approved: Becky Lewis, drama assistant; Andrew Ficarro, junior high golf; Aimee Wademan, wrestling cheerleading advisor; Diana Hurlburt, newspaper advisor. Approval was given for a voluntary cross country position, Matthew VanLierop.
The boards last action of the evening was the unanimous approval of hiring for an administrative position, Bronson Stone, Superintendent of Schools.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, August 18, 7:30 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
James E. Ruffin (est-aka) James E. Ruffin Sr. (est) to Harry I and Jacquelyn S. McChesney, in Susquehanna for $42,000.
Debora S. Alt to Andrej Effler and May Draffen, in New Milford Township for $77,380.
David R. Hendricks and Bonnie J. Hendricks to Michael VanSickle and Maria VanSickle, in New Milford Township for $179,900.
Charles L. Thompson (est) to James P. Laurie and Pauline A. Laurie, in Auburn Township for $200,000.
Lawrence T. OReilly and Christine M OReilly to John E. Kozol and Lynn M. Vizvary, in Silver Lake Township for $21,500.
William B. Visser to Richard D. Lorenz, in Oakland Township for $47,700.
Michelle Tyler (nbm) Michelle LaFrance, and Joseph LaFrance to Anthony R. Tyler, in Auburn Township for $125,000.
Paul B. Nice and Kathryn Nice to David Nice, in Jessup Township. Type: map.
Paul McGavin and Winifred McGavin to Martin McGavin, in Auburn Township. Type: map.
James L. Baker and Gloria J. Baker to James L. Baker and Gloria J. Baker, in Springville Township. Type: map.
Alice Golden to Julian A. Nanton, in Jackson Township, for $129,780.
Alice Golden to Julian A. Nanton, in Jackson Township for $129,780,
Kevin J. Healion and Laura M. Healion to Robert E. Aiken and Patricia O. Aiken, in Forest Lake Township for $50,000.
Toby J. Miele and Fran Doyle to Allan Villeneuve and Bernadette Villeneuve, in Rush Township for $130,000.
Daniel J. Kelleher and Anne Kelleher to Mark L. Benedict, in Clifford Township for $12,500.
Edward D. Santelli and Renee Santelli to Renee Santelli, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
New Milford Borough to Phillip E. James and Jean Lorraine James, in New Milford Borough, agreement to vacate portion of a street.
New Milford Borough to Phillip E. James and Jean Lorraine James, in New Milford Borough for one dollar.
Wayne R. Adams and Anne Adams to Edward Henry Kiefer Jr. and Amybelle Matilda Kiefer, in Harford Township for $126,000.
Leighter Corporation to Adam C. Sobel and Allison J. Sobel in Herrick Township for $77,000.
Nadine L. Valentine to Michael Lenz and Jane Lenz, in Lathrop Township for $73,750.
John E. Watts and Joan E. Watts (by attorney) to John E. Watts and Joan E. Watts, in Bridgewater Township for $100.
Tammy Barnard and Thomas P. Franks to Tammy F. Barnard, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
James E. Stone and Barbara A. Stone to Vernon Wehrung and Jean Wehrung, in New Milford and Franklin townships for $157,000.
Rolly R. Brink and Penny D. Brink to Rolly R. Brink and Penny D. Brink, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
John H. Dishong III and Cheryl A. Monaco (aka) Cheryl A. Dishong to Lorraine M. Twilley, in Forest City for $60,420.
Frieda Grier Gerrity (estate) to Roert K. Gerrity, Scott Gerrity, Shawn Reed Gerrity, William H. Gerrity Sr., J. Bartholomay Grier, Spender Gerrity, dawn Gerrity Barnett, Jill Gerrity Yother, and Deborah Grier Kozik, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Harry G. Cramer and Elizabeth A. Cramer to John C. Cramer, Pamela C. Williams, Gail M. Cramer, Jerome H. Cramer, and Mary Anne Hayes, in Hallstead Borough for two dollars.
R. E. Lajoie, Shirley V. Lajoie, Shirley V. Nealon (nbm) to Ivan Galetovic and Dusanka Galetovic, in Lenox Township for $130,000.
Leda Joy Stern (nbm) Leda Stern Goldsmith, Jay Kenneth Goldsmith to Leda Stern Goldsmith and Jay Kenneth Goldsmith, in Thompson Township for one dollar.
Virginia Briggs to Edward J. Donahue and Angel L. Donahue, in Harford Township. Type: Land Cont.
Terrance J. Wentz, Sally A. Wentz, Gerald Whiteman, and Sally A. Whiteman to Harry R. Daniels, in Jackson Township for $18,000.
Federal National Mortgage Association (aks) Fanniemae to Herbert L. Kyle, in New Milford Borough for $35,000.
Allen E. Elbrecht (aka) Allan E. Elbrecht, Christine A. Elbrecht, Steven F. Gordon and Kathleen A. Gordon to Jerylin Abbot King and Robert W. King Jr., in Great Bend Borough and Great Bend Township, for $5,000.
Francis Gerald Kane and Catharine Taggart Kane to F. Gerald Kane (trust) and Catherine T. Kane (trust), in Borough of Lanesboro and Harmon Township for one dollar.
Frances N. Drake (trust) to Frances N. Drake and Laura Lynn Drake, in Herrick Township for $100.
Ireno Monteforte and Mary Monteforte to Singh Realty, in New Milford Township for $350,000.
People State Bank to Richard J. Olver, in Forest Lake Township for $56,000.
Wayne E. Lewis and Donna J. OHara Lewis to Joseph L. Larue, in Forest Lake Township for $43,000.
Joseph Masso to Russell Leichliter, in Auburn Township. Type : Land Cont.
Donald Dean & Sons Inc. to Halsey Inc., in Bridgewater Township. Type: Memol.
John I. Fiala and Joan M. Fiala to Barbara A. Myers, in Apolacon Township for zero dollars.
Barbara A. Myers to John I. Fiala and Joan M. Fiala, in Apolacon Township for zero dollars.
Ethan Randall King, Sitka, AK, and Ann Marie Giampietro, Sitka, AK.
Vincent Glenn Delong, Susquehanna, and Melinda Sue Whitmore, Susquehanna.
Mitchel Alyn Conklin, New Milford, and Rachel Lynn Bennett, Meadows.
Francis Michael Hood, Montrose, and Cory Lynn Clark, Montrose.
Jamed Richard Klock, Susquehanna, and Mary Margaret Reynolds, Susquehanna.
Stephen John Pitonyak, New Milford, and Rebecca Ann Foster, Montrose.
Sandra L. Kelley, Montrose, vs. Edward L. Kelley, Montrose.
Emmette Harper, Montrose, vs. Norma C. V. Harper, Binghamton, NY.
RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY
A 1995 blue Jeep Cherokee was left in the rest area along Interstate 81 southbound from July 19 until July 21. Upon checking the vehicle, it was found that the Pennsylvania registration plate had been reported stolen from Athens, PA in Bradford County. The Jeep itself, however, was not reported stolen. Two teenage males were seen working on the Jeep on the night of July 19, but later left. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
An unknown person(s) arrived at the trailer home of Patrick Yachymiak, Nicholson, and threw a rock through his front window sometime between 9:34 and 3 p.m. on July 21. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
A barn along Crowley Road and belonging to Steve McCormack, Montrose, was broken into on July 20. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
On July 5 at five in the morning, Jeffrey Matthews, Montrose, was traveling east along Liberty Park Road, Liberty Township, when he swerved to avoid a deer in the roadway, colliding with a tree.
THEFT, CRIMINAL MISCHIEF
At a PENNDOT facility along State Route 171 in Clifford Township, a person(s) removed two 35 miles-per-hour speed limit signs and damaged portable traffic signals by shooting at them. This happened sometime between the afternoon of July 13 and the morning of July 19. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
HIT AND RUN COLLISION
Elizabeth Reid, 19, Hallstead, was making a left turn onto Airport Road from Route 11 in Great Bend Township when she was rear-ended by another vehicle, operator and make unknown, which fled the scene. Reids 1993 Ford Escort received moderate damage in this collision that occurred on the evening of July 17. She was wearing a seat belt and was uninjured.
Elaine Tingley, New Milford, driving a 2003 Ford Focus, was attempting to turn from Route 11 into the New Milford Hardware Stores parking lot, when she pulled in front of a 1999 Dodge Truck driven by Christopher Allen, New Milford. Allens truck struck the right side of Tingleys Ford, causing it to spin and strike a parked car. All three vehicles were towed from the scene in this accident that happened on the morning of July 16.
On the evening of July 8, William Roberts, Susquehanna, allegedly terrorized Louise Wilmot, Binghamton, by pointing a weapon at her during an argument at their residence. Charges have been filed against Roberts.
On the afternoon of July 17, Amanda Brand, 31, Hallstead, went to the home of Christopher Merritt, Liberty Township, and punched a hole through a bathroom door, entered the room, and punched Merritt about the head. Merritt then choked and shoved Brand and forcibly pushed her out of his residence. Both parties have been cited for harassment. Brand was also cited for criminal mischief. All charges were filed at the office of District Justice Watson Dayton, Montrose.
An accident occurred when Hayley Salansky, 16, Uniondale, lost control of a 1994 Ford Escort she was driving on SR 2057 in Brooklyn Township in the early evening of July 17. The car left the road, struck a tree stump and rolled onto its roof. Salansky and two passengers, Jenna and Tiffany Fanchen, 16 and 14, respectively, both from Kingsley, were taken by the Montrose and Harford ambulances to the Endless Mountains Health Systems in Montrose where they were treated for minor injuries. All were wearing seat belts. The Hop Bottom Fire Department assisted at the scene.
Between the evening of June 8 and the following morning, someone took a 16-foot aluminum boat belonging to Steven Esposito from his property along State Route 171, Great Bend Township.
LOST AND FOUND
A Roadmaster Talon bicycle was found along Franklin Street in Hallstead on July 16.
On July 16, three State Troopers arrived at the Blue Ridge Motel in response to a noise complaint. When they arrived, accused Joseph Pagano was in possession of a small amount of marijuana. Pagano was arrested and remanded to the County jail; bail was set at $500.
On July 10, a 1994 Ford Ranger belonging to Joshua Holbrook, Montrose, was purposefully damaged by flying gravel. A juvenile suspect has been identified and an investigation is ongoing.
President Ted Plevinsky opened the Codes Committee meeting by welcoming a new member, Hallstead Borough. He also called upon COGs BUI inspector Mike Pasteka, who has already worked on 19 applications for building permits since the UCC effective date for COG members, to report on recent changes to the Code.
In a nutshell, said Pasteka, "the state has taken anything to do with repairs and alterations on residences out of the UCC." Basically, he said, "if you are not going to touch the structural part of a building, and, say, if you are not moving a door, you dont need a permit if you are doing a replacement. But if, say, youre replacing windows and changing a header, then youre making a structural change and do need a permit."
And while repairing a roof or a water heater does not (for now, at least) require the permitting or inspecting, changing an electric water heater for an oil- or gas-fired one does. It is not, said Pasteka, considered a repair, and BUI is working along the guideline that if, say, "a furnace or water heater replacement or repair means a change in fuel, then it needs the permitting and inspecting."
The other big change concerns the size of a "miscellaneous-use structure," such as a shed or a garage that is detached from a house, and which is exempt from the UCC. Previously, the exemption applied to such structures if they were less than 500 square; the recent changes increase the size to 1,000 square feet. Pasteka pointed out, however, that anything attached to a home even if its 10x 10 does need a permit. (A permitting resolution was later passed out taking into account this change, for amending the ordinance adopted by some member municipalities to permit, inspect, and assess these structures.)
Another change summarized by Pasteka was the doing away with the requirement for hard-wired smoke detectors, except for brand-new homes. Battery-operated ones are still fine for existing structures and additions to them.
Non-commercial recreational cabins have also been excluded, except for requiring that they be equipped with smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. Pasteka said that if such a cabin has a mailbox or mailing address on it, "its a residence, and not exempt."
A member wanted to know what would happen if a recreational cabin were sold as a residence. That, said Pasteka, would require its inspection as a residence.
What about swimming pools? Yep, a permit has always been needed, for both above- and in-ground pools. "They are big issue liability wise, and pools are always a prominent question on home-insurance applications," said Pasteka. He added that, for modular and mobile homes, BUI is inspecting the foundations but not the homes themselves. However, since these buildings are assessments for municipalities, Pasteka notifies COG of these kinds of inspections, as well, to pass along to members.
Pasteka will make available a list of the exemptions for COG members. The inspector is familiar with the area, having worked as a contractor in Montrose, and says he "doesnt want people to go crazy; we want to ease them into what is now required by the state." He noted that hes been fielding a tremendous amount of calls, and welcomes them. COG and BUI are committed to going out for a requested inspection within 24 hours of when a call comes in. For the three done recently, Pasteka was out within an hour. He acknowledged that some gray areas still remain, and hopefully will shake out over the next few months. But, so far, so good.
Codes secretary Karen Trynoski told members that the group will be placing an ad in the papers, listing which municipalities for which COG is enforcing the UCC, as well as website and a toll-free number residents of those municipalities can use should they have any questions.
Brought up for discussion by Plevinsky was an e-mail from a member taking exception to the monthly administrative fee of $12.50 that is billed to Codes members and which also includes costs associated with Codes enforcement of non-UCC ordinances, such as the exempted, detached sheds and garages and such that are assessable to municipalities. Some COG members have not adopted the non-UCC ordinance in their municipalities and are concerned they are paying for a service it does receive.
Plevinsky reminded members that the monthly administrative fee includes the cost of office staff, as well as vetting of the UCC ordinance by its counsel and advertising it this last worth at least $150 if a municipality had to do it by itself. As time goes on, the monthly fee will be reassessed to see if any changes need to be made to it.
Included in the agenda and minutes package was a form for use by a builder or property-owner to request an appeal of an inspection decision. Trynoski reported that, while five people have volunteered to serve on the appeals board three of whom would be selected for an appeal the group would like to have a couple more. The five include residents of Montrose, New Milford, Friendsville and Harford.
Before adjourning, both Plevinsky and Trynoski reported on the progress of New Milford Township becoming a Codes member. Basically, information and required and specifically-dated forms were not received within the required deadlines for a July 1 UCC ordinance adoption, and the township will need to wait out the 180-day time period required by the UCC, from July 1 to opt in with COG.
COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS
President Elliot Ross introduced PENNDOTs Randy Decker a regular at COG meetings who, in turn introduced Sal Denado to answer questions from the group about posted and bonded roads. With heavy-duty tractors and other equipment, and with a lot of trucks hauling timber and stone throughout some member municipalities, its a concern as to who is liable for damage to roads.
On PENNDOT-maintained roads, he said, equipment can be unloaded so long as traffic is maintained with a flag-person and the road is protected so there is no damage done to it. If there is, then the person doing the unloading is liable for repairing the damage. "If we catch someone, they repair the road or we do it and send them a bill," he said.
They would have to be caught, of course, and the municipality would need to enforce the repairing of the damage. He said photos of the damage, or the damage in progress, helped a lot, but acknowledged that oftentimes obtaining them was difficult. Decker pointed out that sometimes PENNDOT sprays oil on the road; before it dries, farmers will drive over it because its obvious that tractors and manure spreaders have gone through.
Denado related that PENNDOT recently caught someone around Liberty Park doing some timbering; no damage was done to the road, but repairs have to be made by the timberer to damage done to the shoulder. "You can call the State Police or the PENNDOT Weigh Team. They will inspect the truck or equipment and cite the operator damage if they see it."
Denado will make available to members the phone number for the person in charge of the Weigh Team, which is available to also work on a municipalitys roads. The team, however, has only two people on it, and is responsible for Lackawanna and Susquehanna County. Sometimes, like in the example Denado cited, they can come as soon as called. "If you know at what time trucks usually run real early, or later in the evening, say you can arrange for a member of the team to be there," suggested Denado.
The quarries and logging businesses were a concern, because they are so big a part of the countys economy. Denado said it helps to speak with quarry owners and make a deal if damage is done to a road, say, they could agree to provide the materials to repair the road or do it themselves. If it is an established quarry, say, and a road is posted for a 10-ton weight limit, a quarry owner could be exempt unless its proved that quarry trucks are doing damage to the roads, said Denado. "Thats why we always recommend talking to a quarry owner first."
The representative from one municipality said he recently got a call from a quarry operator who wanted to repair a road, but who also wants a letter releasing him from any liability. Denado did not like that last part at all, and "no way are we releasing liability," said the representative.
Denado will make available to COG members a package that explains how to bond roads in their municipalities.
SEWAGE ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE
After welcoming new member Hop Bottom Borough, committee President Pisasek asked SEO Duane Wood to address the group with a suggestion. Wood explained that Adam Griffes would like "some sort of steady work with the group for a few hours a week." This would allow Griffes, said Wood, to go out in the field and do some training. Secretary Karen Trynoski noted that Griffes has been accepted into the November SEO course. SEO Jim Tracy reported that the Sewage Committee would not be reimbursed by the state to take Griffes out and educate him. However, time spent doing perc tests, said Trynoski, would be reimbursed.
One member noted that, while there is plenty of work during the warm weather, what would happen when it gets colder? Wood replied that Griffes is doing extremely well helping the SEOs out now, and is asking for three hours of paid work a week that would include one perc test. Pisasek said he was leaning toward helping Griffes out "the best we can," and, if the current SEOs were busy, he had no problem with bringing Griffes on for the time and test he is requesting.
Another member asked if that meant that Sewage has an opening and are we going to fill it and advertise for it, or is the group creating the work? While he could see advertising for a position when there was the work to fill it down the road, he expressed the fact that Griffes would "trickle in, and pretty soon is a full-time employee, and if it gets to that point, we better advertise for the position."
Pisasek replied that he didnt want to offer Griffes a full-time position in the spring, when Tracy is scheduled to move to part-time status. "There is nothing that is automatic," he said. "If and when it comes time to hire someone on a full time basis, we need to put our heads together and come up with the best solution."
Pisasek asked Wood if, indeed, Griffes wanted just three hours of work a week. Wood answered, four hours, and a motion was made and approved to hire Adam Griffes as a temporary employee without benefits at $12.50 an hour for no more than four hours a week.
Pisasek next reported to members that Mr. Kuzma, or the Kuzma/Vadovsky violation, has requested an appeal. A hearing board was named and Trynoski will communicate with all parties to set a date for the hearing.
The meeting adjourned after a brief SEO report by Wood: "We are real busy, still, and swamped with work."
The next regular meeting of the Council of Governments is scheduled for August 17 at 7 p.m. in COG offices in the New Milford Borough Building on Main Street.
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